The Apostle was a pioneer unafraid of taking the gospel into unknown frontiers. It is clear that he intended to go to Spain. “But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there… So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way.” (Romans 15 v 23-25, 28)
Did he get there? Luke who wrote with detail of his missionary journeys actually leaves him in Rome in his own rented house but under house arrest for 2 whole years. What happened then? Did Paul venture out onto a 4th missionary journey arriving in Spain? Did he then return to Rome and was then martyred? Or was Spain another one of those places where Paul wanted to go but couldn’t, like Bithynia? Subsequent early Church letters sent by people like Clement of Rome do make clear that Paul got to Spain, if they are to be believed.
If he did get there and then returned to Rome and was beheaded or if he didn’t get his heart’s desire I think we can learn this: make sure you grow old with a passion for the gospel burning in your heart; grow old wanting to talk to new people about Jesus; grow old so that the enemy will have to take your head off to shut you up about the good news of Jesus Christ! Let’s burn brighter as we get older.